Our chat with Lodrina Masiyazi, an industrial engineer in Zimbabwe enlightens us on why industrial engineering focuses on systems and processes, and why we cannot do without it.
Question: Why did you choose industrial engineering(IE)? And why do you still do it? I chose industrial engineering because of my love for mathematics and my need to be helpful. I’ve always felt excited when confronted with a problem, breaking it down and start working on a solution. IE inspires me, because of the focus of making people’s lives better through technology and best practices.
Question: What is your typical workday like? Tasks I’m constantly involved with as an IE is product development, a process that involves working as part of a team. There is always a community or industrial need that needs addressing, and sometimes these needs can be addressed through some technological design or improving methodologies used in existing systems. My work involves investigating methods that improve these methodologies, whilst ensuring we are working within cost boundaries. Most of the time, we succeed in addressing the needs and problems, but we do have times when we aren’t so successful and we have to go back to the drawing board, and rethink our strategy.
Question: In your opinion, what is the future of industrial engineering in Zimbabwe? There will always be a need for Industrial Engineering, especially the various techniques and tools you learn within it. I actually believe many people practice industrial engineering without knowing that’s what they are doing. It’s a relevant field. However, IE in itself, is rarely ever done without incorporating expertise from other core fields and I’m learning that most fields of engineering are the same.
Question: What role do women play in this landscape? Women play are distinct role and excel in this field because many of the techniques come naturally to them. Unfortunately though, there aren’t that many in the field, perhaps since it is not a traditional field of practice. However, over the years I’ve seen the number of women grow and it’s encouraging.
Question: What advice would you give to anyone who is considering industrial engineering as a career?
Work smart and hard.
Have fun and keep your mind open to learning.
Question: What are two things that have had a large impact on your career growth?
1. being involved with the development of other people in the field; and
2. the encouragement to expand and learn from mentors and friends.
Question: What mentorship activities are you involved in? I work as a mentor for undergraduate female engineering students as well as high school students. I have worked in collaboration with FAWEZI, an NGO focused on education for girls, as well as a Zimbabwe division called Women in Engineering. I have also done work with Techwomen Zimbabwe and some I have done in collaboration with other women, under an initiative I started called GEMProjects. Collectively to date, we have managed to reach well over 2000 girls, with some of those girls opting to enter and stay in engineering fields. The process is rewarding, especially when you see the young women grow and establish themselves, whilst going on to spread their own mentorship wings. There are times where it can be a challenge, especially when I have to juggle personal work commitments with my mentoring activities. I also hope to find a way to reach more girls in rural and peri-urban areas, as some of these areas are neglected. FAWEZI has been looking into that too, so I’m hoping to be of help there.
Question: Looking forward, what next in your career? Going on to further my knowledge in IE, and hopefully also the launch of a few products I’ve been working on.
Question: Favorite quote?
I have many, but I would encourage anyone to have a read Desiderata. It’s been a guide for me since I was fourteen, in terms of life choices and activities.
Question: Parting shot? I’d encourage all girls and women, to think of themselves first as individuals. In my ethnic language, there is no word for he or she, a person is a person regardless of their biological makeup. Therefore, a person is evaluated based on what they can give, and in my opinion every person has something to give. So bring and give yourself to the world, you are of great value and your skills, way of thinking and love is greatly needed.